Thousands of seabirds gather for Ocean Beach feeding frenzy

Ocean Beach seabird feeding frenzy

Hundreds of seabirds dove after a school of fish just a few yards from shore on Ocean Beach Sunday. Photo: Tom Prete/Ocean Beach Bulletin

Seabirds gathered by the thousands at Ocean Beach Sunday afternoon to feast on a school of small fish in an extraordinary near-shore feeding frenzy that lasted for hours.

Pelicans, terns, gulls and cormorants were among the birds all diving for the four- or five-inch fish so close to shore that the water sometimes was just a few inches deep.

With so many birds diving, swimming and swooping, it was difficult to judge how many were actively feeding at any time. But a rough count of birds from photos taken at the time suggests that perhaps 200 fed while more flew or swam nearby, and many more gulls and terns flocked on the sand between Noriega and Rivera streets.

Twitter follower @aprilbondSF tipped off the Ocean Beach Bulletin to the unusual event at about 1:45 p.m. Sunday, and two and a half hours later the birds still attacked the school of baitfish.

The unusual display of diving birds brought a handful of spectators to the site, including several anglers who said they had never seen a feeding display quite like it. An Ocean Beach Bulletin reporter who has fished Ocean Beach for about 16 years also has seen similar clusters of diving birds numerous times, but never so many birds or so close to shore.

Check out this video of Sunday’s Ocean Beach seabird feeding frenzy:

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  1. Yes folks. That happened!!! I was doing my speed walk and was stunned by the thousands of pelicans and terns wearing themselves out by diving, swooping and not crashing into each other! People had camera and camcorders (I didn’t! Ugh), recording the most spectacular “bird show” we have all seen. The fish being snatched, I was told were anchovies and baitfish. If this is wrong, let me know.

  2. Same thing happened, but with many more birds (and some sea lions) at Sunset Beach in Watsonville on Saturday night 8/3. I was looking for some reference to it online and this is the closest I’ve seen. I guess the school of fish continued migrating up the coast:


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